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India

India Photo Album

semi-overcast 67 °F

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Posted by rpickett 14:35 Archived in India Comments (0)

India

Jaipur

sunny 75 °F

This is our final day in India and we slept in a little, did some sightseeing, had some free time to eat lunch and shop in the market, and mid-afternoon we flew back to Delhi to prepare for our flights home, many of which leave between Midnight and 4:00am going west.

This was probably one of the best groups I have been part of. Because it was India, the group was well-educated, well travelled, exceptionally friendly, prompt for departs, and just a pleasure to be with.

Our major stop for the morning was the Hindu Temple Birla Mandir where we attended morning prayer. It was a remarkable and inspiring ceremony. To preserve the sanctity of the temple and service, photography was not allowed inside. This temple forms one of the most beautiful attractions of Jaipur. The construction of the temple started in 1977 and it went on till 1985. On 22 February 1985, the temple deity was invoked and was opened for public to visit. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Narayan), the preserver and his consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Due to this reason, Birla Temple is also known as Laxmi Narayan Temple. Birla Mandir is constructed in the finest quality of white marble. The three huge domes of the temple represent three different approaches to the religion. The beautiful white marble temple mesmerizes the onlookers, when it glows at night. Stained glass windows depict the scenes from Hindu scriptures. Ganesh the protector of households, is above the lintel, and the fine quality of marble is evident when you enter the temple and look back at the entrance way. The images of Lakshmi and Narayan attract the attention, being made out from one piece of marble. Many of the deities of the Hindu pantheon are depicted inside the temple, and on the outside walls great historical personages and figures from all religions are shown, including Socrates, Zarathustra, Christ, Buddha, and Confucius.

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We then went back to the center of the city for free time, lunch and headed to the airport for our flight to Delhi.

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India has to be taken at face value, and you can not invoke western customs and traditions on the country. The socio-economic paradox is enormous. Most scholars believe Hinduism formally started somewhere between 2300 B.C. and 1500 B.C., and the social structure of the country has evolved since then into it's current state. Because of that, and a tremendous number of people, the distance between the rich and poor is great. It is what it is, and you have to marvel at the country's character and Icons and not judge it.

Posted by rpickett 03:26 Archived in India Tagged jaipur Comments (0)

India

Jaipur

sunny 80 °F

After a beautiful sunrise over the lake this morning, and a good breakfast, we headed to the Amber Palace - also known as the Amer Fort - in the Village of Amer, where we took jeeps from the parking area to the gate of the palace. Amer Fort is known for its artistic Hindu style elements. With its large ramparts and series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks Maota Lake, which is the main source of water for the Amer Palace. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of the Diwan-i-Aam, or "Hall of Public Audience", the Diwan-i-Khas, or "Hall of Private Audience", the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace. Hence, the Amer Fort is also popularly known as the Amer Palace. The palace was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families. At the entrance to the palace near the fort's Ganesh Gate, there is a temple dedicated to Shila Devi, a goddess of the Chaitanya cult, which was given to Raja Man Singh when he defeated the Raja of Jessore, Bengal in 1604.

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It was then off to an exclusive jewler and stone cutter to watch a little about how stones are cut, and to purchase some goodies. The stones are all certified and the pricing was excellent.

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After a nice lunch at a local restaurant, we toured the Royal Palace. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum, but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. The palace complex, located northeast of the centre of the grid-patterned Jaipur city, incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732, initially by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. He planned and built the outer walls, and later additions were made by successive rulers continuing up to the 20th century. The credit for the urban layout of the city and its structures is attributed to two architects namely, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, the chief architect in the royal court and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, apart from the Sawai himself who was a keen architectural enthusiast. The architects achieved a fusion of the Shilpa Shastra of Indian architecture with Rajput, and Mughal.

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Our final stop of the day was the astrological museum, which uses the sun and various sun dials accurate to several seconds. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India's historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.

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Posted by rpickett 04:22 Archived in India Tagged jaipur Comments (1)

India

Ramthambore and Jaipur

sunny 78 °F

This morning we did our third total and second 0700 safari in search of the tiger. This is what you do bounce around on a safari vehicle and stare at the countryside, which today was wonderful. Sightings are actually pretty rare. We encountered one of the trackers the government employs and he had seem some prints, but no tigers. However we did manage to see a Sloth Bear. The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is an insectivorous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, mainly because of habitat loss and degradation. It has also been called labiated bear because of its long lower lip and palate used for sucking insects. Compared to brown and black bears, the sloth bear is lankier, has a long, shaggy fur and a mane around the face, and long, sickle-shaped claws. It evolved from the ancestral brown bear during the Pleistocene and through convergent evolution shares features found in insect-eating mammals. All in all between the leopard and the bear, we saw two animals that are sighted far less frequently than tigers.

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After a breakfast and a shower, we left for Jaipur, about 4 hours away, and arrived at the hotel at about 1600. It is along side the lake, and Globus booked us into lake side rooms, which have a small balcony.

This evening we went inside the Pink City for dinner at a Noble family's house, who host lunches and dinners to help maintain the residence. The family has owned the house since the 1700's. We also had a quick demonstration of Turban and Sari tying. It was a wonderful evening.

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Posted by rpickett 04:06 Archived in India Tagged and jaipur ranthambore Comments (0)

India

Ranthambhore

sunny 72 °F

Today we had a wake up call for 0600 so we could get underway for our first safari in the Park starting at 0700. It was chilly. By the time we started our second safari at 1400, the temperature was in the 70's. The quest is to find the elusive Bengal tiger. There are 60 in the park, and the naturalist said that the numbers of tigers in India is growing nation wide. Though we didn't see a Bengal, we did see a leopard on the prowl. This is a very rare sighting during the day time, so we were very fortunate. Safari in Northern India is not for the faint of heart. Off roading on steroids, and tons of dust as this is the dry season. The park actually closes down during the monsoon in July. Too much water and mud. There are 10 tracks in the park and we are doing three different ones. Entry is strictly controlled by the government.

Ranthambhore is a national park in northern India, covering 392 kmĀ². Ranthambhore was established as the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 by the Government of India and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. Ranthambhore became a national park in 1980. In 1984, the adjacent forests were declared the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary, and in 1991 the tiger reserve was enlarged to include the Sawai Man Singh and Keladevi sanctuaries. Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary is known for its Bengal tigers, and is a popular place in India to see these animals in their natural jungle habitat. Tigers can be easily spotted even in the daytime. The best times for tiger sightings at Ranthambhore National Park are deemed to be in November and May. The park's deciduous forests are characteristic examples of the type of jungle found in Central India. Other fauna include the Indian leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque, mugger crocodile and chital. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India.

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Posted by rpickett 05:15 Archived in India Tagged ranthambore Comments (0)

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